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Veto Message

December 14, 1842

* Pocket veto

To the House of Representatives:

Two bills were presented to me at the last session of Congress, which originated in the House of Representatives, neither of which was signed by me; and both having been presented within ten days of the close of the session, neither has become a law.

The first of these was a bill entitled "An act to repeal the proviso of the sixth section of the act entitled 'An act to appropriate the proceeds of the sales of the public lands and to grant preemption rights,' approved September 4, 1841 ."

This bill was presented to me on Tuesday, the 30th August, at twenty-four minutes after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. For my opinions relative to the provisions contained in this bill it is only necessary that I should refer to previous communications made by me to the House of Representatives.

The other bill was entitled "An act regulating the taking of testimony in cases of contested elections, and for other purposes." This bill was presented to me at a quarter past 1 o'clock on Wednesday, the 31st day of August. The two Houses, by concurrent vote, had already agreed to terminate the session by adjournment at 2 o'clock on that day--that is to say, within three-quarters of an hour from the time the bill was placed in my hands. It was a bill containing twenty-seven sections, and, I need not say, of an important nature.

On its presentment to me its reading was immediately commenced, but was interrupted by so many communications from the Senate and so many other causes operating at the last hour of the session that it was impossible to read the bill understandingly and with proper deliberation before the hour fixed for the adjournment of the two Houses; and this, I presume, is a sufficient reason for neither signing the bill nor returning it with my objections.

The seventeenth joint rule of the two Houses of Congress declares that "no bill or resolution that shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate shall be presented to the President of the United States for his approbation on the last day of the session."

This rule was evidently designed to give to the President a reasonable opportunity of perusing important acts of Congress and giving them some degree of consideration before signing or returning the same.

It is true that the two Houses have been in the habit of suspending this rule toward the close of the session in relation to particular bills, and it appears by the printed Journal that by concurrent votes of the two Houses passed on the last day of the session the rule was agreed to be suspended so far as the same should relate to all such bills as should have been passed by the two Houses at 1 o'clock on that day. It is exceedingly to be regretted that a necessity should ever exist for such suspension in the case of bills of great importance, and therefore demanding careful consideration.

As the bill has failed under the provisions of the Constitution to become a law, I abstain from expressing any opinions upon its several provisions, keeping myself wholly uncommitted as to my ultimate action on any similar measure should the House think proper to originate it de novo , except so far as my opinion of the unqualified power of each House to decide for itself upon the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members has been expressed by me in a paper lodged in the Department of State at the time of signing an act entitled "An act for the apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the Sixth Census," approved June 22, 1842, a copy of which is in possession of the House.


John Tyler, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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